Nationwide League 1, known simply as League 1 in Ianoia, is the highest division of the Nationwide League (NL) and second-highest overall in the Ianoian baseball league system after the I-League, and is currently contested by 14 clubs.
The league was formed in 1900 as the Nationwide Baseball Alliance, a secondary competition set-up for clubs who initially missed out on joining the I-League. In 1914, the league officially became the second tier of baseball in the country, rebranding as the Nationwide League. The team that finishes top of the table at end of the season is automatically promoted to the I-League.
Teams in the league have always played three game series against each other, both home and away, with games traditionally taking place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. As the league expanded to incorporate more teams, teams started to also play games on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to ensure the season only ran from April to November.
In 1898, McCutchen City owner Addison Eliot played a pivotal role in organizing meetings in McCutchen and Ivychurch that involved as many as 16 baseball clubs, all with the aim of establishing a professional league competition. The main concern was clubs losing talented players overseas to Koana Islands and Günsovölk who had already set-up professional leagues. Subsequently, clubs from across the country applied to join the I-League which began play in 1900, with 10 clubs ultimately becoming the founding members of the I-League.
Clubs such as Athletic Ragdale and Souldrop whose applications were rejected, met in a restaurant called The Rose Tea Room in Oldstead on 3rd of December 1899, to discuss creating a second league as a rival to the I-League. Of the 18 clubs that attended the meeting, 10 ultimately agreed to join the newly formed Nationwide Baseball Alliance:
- Athletic Ragdale
- Brinkburn Coastal
- Caunton Victoria
- Great McCutchen
- Leekcliff & Salt
- NN Kingsdown
- Red Flag
- Worcester Bank
1900 – 1910
The inaugural season was a great success from a financial point of view, with clubs achieving profits and attendances similar to that of I-League clubs. Athletic Ragdale were crowned champions. The following year, Souldrop were declared champions with Athletic Ragdale finishing 5th. The competitiveness of the league prompted one journalist to declare the Nationwide Baseball Alliance to be a more exciting product than the I-League.
Great McCutchen were forced to withdraw from the league after only two seasons, citing financial difficulties in paying fees to the local government, something crosstown rival club, I-League participant McCutchen City, didn’t have to do. Ince Ironworks replaced the club and in their inaugural season in 1902, finished 3rd, a feat they repeated the following year. 1903 saw Souldrop win their 3rd consecutive league title, giving rise to many critics claiming the league was starting to struggle, particularly in retaining key players, who found more lucrative deals in the I-League and abroad.
After voting down a proposal to introduce the Durand Rules in 1904, the league started to grow stagnant, despite Canons and Ince Ironworks winning their first league titles in 1904 and 1905, respectively. The 1906 season saw the league expand to 12 teams, with Kirtling Hurlers and Whittleford Weekenders joining the fray. The expansion was widely panned by fans and pundits, with the latter only lasting one season before collapsing due to the financial strain put on the relatively small club. At the end of the season, Donyatt-Burstwick, a founding member of the I-League, became the first club to be voted out of the league, and subsequently requested to join the NBA on the proviso the league adopted the Durand Rules. Despite holding reservations – especially following the disastrous expansion only a year earlier – the league agreed to expand again in 1907 believing Donyatt-Burstwick would significantly increase interest and attendances.
Along with Donyatt-Burstwick, Athletic Bedlington and Flitwick & Forest both joined for the first time. All three clubs performed well in their first season, with the Sharks finishing third. However, a growing financial gulf between the NBA and I-League started to appear, as clubs Red Flag and NN Kingsdown forced their players to make their own way to away games and sometimes even had to pay for their own accommodation. In one such case in 1908, numerous Kirtling Hurlers players were found sleeping outside the stadium of Caunton Victoria in a park prior to their first game on Saturday morning.
After Kirtling Hurlers folded at the end of the 1908 season, the league replaced them with St. Barlow, a club from Ince, by a vote of 12-1; the lone vote against coming from Ince Ironworks. The 1909 season saw Ince Ironworks declared as champions for the second time, before the club merged with St. Barlow after James Turner – the owner of Ince Steelworks Company and Ince Ironworks – stated that the town could not accommodate two teams in the same league. The Nationwide Baseball Alliance, once again looking for another club, voted in Heslington United from Oldstead.
1911 – 1919
Following the 1911 Centaurus Cup in which Ianoia performed poorly, newspapers were extremely critical of the state of baseball within the country, suggesting both the I-League and Nationwide Baseball Alliance should settle their differences, and consider merging to form a second division, in a similar fashion to Division Ett in Koana Islands.
Despite initially rejecting the idea, I-League clubs formally agreed to a second division at the 1913 baseball season end of season meetings, with the bottom-placed club in the I-League relegated. However, the Nationwide Baseball Alliance was considered to be a rival league, and therefore not conducive of a harmonious working relationship. With the I-League seemingly overlooking the NBA, the league set about expanding again from 1915, with Lockledean Rose and Markheaton Mudlarks tentatively agreeing to join.
However, with lukewarm interest from amateur clubs around the country at joining a second division citing the poor financial health of clubs within the NBA, the Ianoian Baseball Association stepped in and formally approached all NBA clubs – with the exception of Lockledean Rose and Markheaton Mudlarks – agreeing to support them financially, as well as guarantee the league’s existence for the next 25 years. With 10 votes in favor, the league legally merged with the I-League, rebranding as the Nationwide League.
|1902||Souldrop ||Red Flag|
|1903||Souldrop ||Caunton Victoria|
|1905||Ince Ironworks||Canons |
|1906||Souldrop ||Canons |
|1907||Canons ||Souldrop |
|1908||Souldrop ||Caunton Victoria |
|1909||Ince Ironworks ||Donyatt-Burstwick|
|1910||Caunton Victoria||Donyatt-Burstwick |
|1911||Souldrop ||Brinkburn Coastal|
|1912||Brinkburn Coastal||Canons |
|1913||Brinkburn Coastal ||Caunton Victoria |
|1914||Athletic Ragdale ||Red Flag|